During their visit to the “New Discovered Country” in April-May, 1815, Governor and Mrs. Macquarie camped twice on the ground at Glenroy.
MACQUARIE VISITS THE ‘NEW DISCOVERED COUNTRY’
Governor Macquarie took a keen interest in the life and progress of the colony. It was his habit to make tours of inspection of the villages and farms in every part of the settlement, accompanied often by his wife. Therefore when Cox’s road was finished the Governor and Mrs. Macquarie set out in April, 1815, with a party of gentlemen and servants to visit the ‘new discovered Country to the Westward of the Blue Mountains”. Macquarie wrote in his Journal that on April 29 they reached “the termination of the Blue Mountains ending in a very abrupt descent almost perpendicular. Here we halted for a little while to view this frightful tremendous Pass, as well as to feast our eyes with the grand and pleasing prospect of the fine low country below us…The distance from our last stage [Blackheath]…and the grand Termination of the Blue Mountains is 7 ¾ miles; and this mountain being one of the most prominent and remarkable of the whole Range, I have named it ‘Mount York’….”. The “frightful tremendous Pass” he named Cox’s Pass, and to the “beautiful extensive Vale of Five Miles” beyond its foot he gave the name “The Vale Clwydd” after a vale in Wales. The vale terminated “at a River running South formed by two smaller ones coming from the Westward and Eastward and which unite at the distance of Five Miles from Mount York”. Macquarie named the river thus formed Cox’s River in honour of William Cox. The Governor’s party arrived at this river at three o’clock and encamped on the left bank of the western branch of it having there at Glenroy good grass and plenty of fine water for their cattle. “We dined at 5, o’clock”, wrote Macquarie, “and played Cards in the Evening after Dinner till Tea-Time; retiring early to Bed”.
FIRST DIVINE SERVICE WEST OF THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
As April 30m 1815, the day following that of Macquarie’s arrival at Cox’s River, was a Sunday, his party halted all day, and here at Glenroy the first Divine service west of the Blue Mountains was held. “After Breakfast”, wrote the Governor, “I had all our Servants and Followers regularly Paraded and Mustered, and had Divine Service performed – the whole of our Party being present.” Henry Colden Antill, who formed one of the party, wrote in his diary as follows: “This being Sunday, it was made a day of rest for ourselves and cattle – and they indeed required it after the exertion of the last week. Rose early and took a walk over the hills on the other side of the river; the morning delightful and the country looking beautiful – gently rising hills bounded by distant and lofty mountains, clothed with wood and herbage to their summits. Returned about eight to breakfast, which done, the people were collected together and Divine service was performed. The men were attentive and orderly ; and thought no doubt with myself how proper it was thus to acknowledge the blessings we were receiving, and returning thanks for our preservation thus far.”
After the service, while Mrs. Macquarie remained in camp, some of the party rode with the Governor to Mount Blaxland and apparently ascended to the top, “from whence”, he wrote, “we had a fine prospect of the adjacent Hilly Country, and of Wentworth’s and Lawson’s Sugar Loaves in the immediate vicinity of Mount Blaxland”.
When at Cox’s River, Governor Macquarie recorded in his diary the holding there of Divine service on April 30, 1815
(From the original in the Mitchell Library)
Meanwhile Antill and another member of the party ‘took a sober walk up the river for about two miles” to a waterfall extending across it. Although the water was then very low they thought that in the rainy season it must be considerable, for the force of the water had made large excavations in the solid rock – a hard, black granite.
They collected seeds and plants along the bed of the river on the way up, and crossing the river by the fall they returned to camp very pleased with their walk. That day the party dined “at 5, o’clock, and retired early to rest”. The next morning after the heavy baggage had been sent ahead the party breakfasted at eight o’clock and at nine left Glenroy. The Governor and Mrs. Macquarie got out of their carriage and mounted their horses at the foot of the first high hill near Mount Blaxland. As it was steep and long, Macquarie named this hill “Fag-Hill”. The tract of elevated country – the Main Divide – extending towards the Fish River he named “Clarence’s Hilly Range” in honour of H.R.H the Duke of Clarence.
He proceeded westward, and on Sunday, May 7, 1815, christened the intended town of Bathurst and again held Divine service.
On their return trip the Governor’s party halted again at the camping ground by Cox’s River, where they arrived on May 13 at ¾ past 3 pm. “after a tiresome and fatiguing journey of 16 miles from the Fish River…We encamped in a pretty little Valley on the Left Bank of Cox’s River, the grass near our last ground here being all burnt during our absence. We dined at 5, o’clock, and spent the Evening as usual.” They remained here at Glenroy the whole of Sunday, May 14. After breakfast that day all the people were assembled near Macquarie’s tent for prayers. According to Antill “no sermon was read as it was late before we began, and the gentlemen were impatient to ride out”
While some of the gentlemen explored Cox’s River downwards, Antill again took a walk upstream. He described that night as mild, “but a high wind made it unpleasant, coming down the vallies in gusts, and driving the fire and smoke about in every direction”.
STOCKYARD AND HUTS AT GLENROY
W.Hassall, Superintendent of Government Stock, crossed the Blue Mountains in 1815. That winter was very severe, and Hassall found that about one hundred of the cows and calves in the herds that had been fixed in a station at the beginning of the Vale of Clwydd had died. He therefore removed the herds to a station more exposed to the morning sun. This was “a very pleasant hill opposite the bridge” – Glenroy itself – where the Governor had encamped by Cox’s River. Hassall thought this station would make an excellent stand for the oxen, though rather too hilly for the cows and calves. They could feed all through the Vale of Clwydd and on the other side towards Mount Blaxland. “We marked out the place for the yard & hutts”, wrote Hassall, “& hope it will answer the purpose”. In a report dated March 27, 1816, he was able to inform the Governor that at this station “Cronen & his men have built a most excellent Stock-yard, 15 Rod by 13 Square with a good marking pen, and also three Hts in a line with the rear of the stock yard, the one next the yard 12 feet by 11 for the Stockmen, the middle hut about the same size for a Store & the one for the Soldiers 20 feet by 10 divided into 2 rooms, one for the Soldiers & the other for the Overseer when he goes to inspect the Stock. The whole of them is built with strong split logs & well shingled with string’y bark shingles, the doors & shutters are all made of broad split stuff, as we could get no sawyers out to saw boards. But considering the materials & the different disadvantages they laboured under to build the yard & huts I have the Honor to report to your Excellency they are well done.”
The military depot at Cox’s River as French visitors saw it in 1819. Notice the granite stepping stones, and at the right one of the little rapids characteristic of the river.